Two Japanese Freight Forwarding Companies Agree To Plead Guilty To Criminal Price-Fixing Charges

Companies Agree to Pay a Total of $18.9 Million in Criminal Fines

WASHINGTON — Two Japanese air freight forwarding companies have agreed to plead guilty and to pay criminal fines totaling $18.9 million for their roles in a conspiracy to fix certain fees in connection with the provision of air freight forwarding services for air cargo shipments from Japan to the United States, the Department of Justice announced today. “K” Line Logistics Ltd. has agreed to pay a $3,507,246 criminal fine and Yusen Logistics Co. Ltd. has agreed to pay a $15,428,207 criminal fine.

Including today’s charges, as a result of this investigation, 16 companies have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay criminal fines totaling more than $120 million.

“Consumers were forced to pay higher prices on the goods they buy every day as a result of the noncompetitive and collusive service fees charged by these companies,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Prosecuting these kinds of global, price-fixing conspiracies continues to be a top priority of the Antitrust Division.”

Freight forwarders manage the domestic and international delivery of cargo for customers by receiving, packaging, preparing and warehousing cargo freight, arranging for cargo shipment through transportation providers such as air carriers, preparing shipment documentation and providing related ancillary services.

According to charges filed separately today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “K” Line Logistics and Yusen Logistics engaged in a conspiracy to fix and to impose certain freight forwarding service fees, including fuel surcharges and various security fees, charged to customers for services provided in connection with air freight forwarding shipments of cargo shipped by air from Japan to the United States from about September 2002 until at least November 2007.

According to the charges, the companies carried out the conspiracy by, among other things, agreeing during meetings and discussions to coordinate and impose certain freight forwarding service fees and charges on customers purchasing freight forwarding services for cargo shipped by air from Japan to the United States. The department said the companies levied freight forwarding service fees in accordance with the agreements reached and engaged in meetings and discussions for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon freight forwarding service fees.

Each company is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s charges are the result of a joint investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section, the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General. Anyone with information concerning the price fixing or other anticompetitive conduct in the freight forwarding industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section at 202-307-6694 or visit or call the FBI’s Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000.

Two Hungarian Nationals Sentenced in Tennessee for Roles in International Fraud Scheme Involving Online Marketplace Websites

Hungarian nationals Beatrix Boka and Aleksandar Kunkin were sentenced today to serve 36 months and 48 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in moving approximately $550,000 in illicit proceeds derived from an international online marketplace fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Boka, 34, and Kunkin, 40, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger in the Middle District of Tennessee.  In addition to their prison terms, Boka and Kunkin were each sentenced to serve two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $464,581 in restitution.

Boka and Kunkin each pleaded guilty in November 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.

According to testimony at Boka and Kunkin’s plea hearings, members of the conspiracy fraudulently listed vehicles for sale at online marketplaces such as eBay. When victims expressed interest in purchasing the vehicles, co-conspirators sent emails that directed the victims to wire payments to certain bank accounts, and victims never received the vehicles for which they paid.  From May to June 2012, Boka and Kunkin visited Bank of America branches in North Carolina and South Carolina and opened bank accounts under false identities, which were supported by fraudulent identity documents including counterfeit Hungarian passports.  In total, 36 victims sent approximately $550,102 to accounts opened by Boka and Kunkin.  Boka and Kunkin subsequently sent the bulk of the money to co-conspirators located abroad.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron M. Jones of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Mysti Degani of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.  The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and the Cobb County, Ga., Sheriff’s Department.